Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Positor on June 29th, 2012, 9:01 am 

Keep_Relentless wrote:Lomax has posted before a challenge to the apparent contradiction of something beginning from nothing, which is to ask the question "Can something begin without beginning from anything?" I have also heard this argument elsewhere and unfortunately I have dismissed it out of hand as lingual manipulation. I am still inclined to think that it is so, because it assumes that influence can come from nowhere. Of course, I think that those supporting free will must argue the same.

I agree with your position here. The problem is how to make it logically watertight. Perhaps we could argue as follows:

1. "X begins" implies a temporal boundary between (a) a state in which X does not exist and (b) a state in which it does.

2. A state in which X does not exist is something – namely, a state.

3. Therefore, if X begins, it must begin from something.

4. The "something" it begins from must have a temporal element, otherwise it would never be "time for X to begin".

You also asked whether existence can suddenly become non-existence. Probably not, but I will think further about this. Would it make any difference if we substitute "the universe" for "existence" in this question, and/or "non-existent" for "non-existence"?
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Keep_Relentless on June 29th, 2012, 9:17 am 

Well, it is definitely something tricky to make watertight. Don't hold me to assert this, but I think your reasoning might be circular here, due to your third point. You state, in order to prove that something must begin from something, that the state of it must begin from something. Are you simply creating an illusion with your words here?

Well, for the conversion aspect, many people seem to have no problem conceiving such a thing. They believe that when they die they will cease to exist. Even monstrous minds like John von Neumann apparently don't try to avoid this reasoning and accept that they are eternal instead. Maybe "the state of nothingness" is verbal trickery as well on my part.

Taken from the dictionary, "universe" means "space and matter", "existence" means "everything". For all I know, there is no matter, and there certainly is energy, abstraction etc. which apparently doesn't belong to the universe.
As for "non-existent" vs. "non-existence", just as with "existent" vs. "existence", I would propose, existence is the property, existent is a thing having that property, even though it is redundant to say that something exists. It also seems redundant to speak of non-existence, so I'm not sure about this.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby ronjanec on June 29th, 2012, 9:51 am 

Keep_Relentless wrote:I am not sure "Why is there something rather than nothing?" necessarily asks "Why did something begin?" It certainly seems like it, as it appears to ask "Why did it not not-begin?", but as I see it we seem to be in agreement that existence coming from nothing, the focus of both latter questions, is illogical. First we can assume that it is illogical. Can existence suddenly become non-existence? This I think is a very central question to this discussion. The OP of this thread expressed my position that treating nothing as something and manipulating it as we do in these questions is senseless. If you do not agree, I wonder how you can even use your faculties in such a way as even to proclaim the state of "nothingness" one that can "be".

Lomax has posted before a challenge to the apparent contradiction of something beginning from nothing, which is to ask the question "Can something begin without beginning from anything?" I have also heard this argument elsewhere and unfortunately I have dismissed it out of hand as lingual manipulation. I am still inclined to think that it is so, because it assumes that influence can come from nowhere. Of course, I think that those supporting free will must argue the same.


Hi K.R,

Why does the same question ask "Why did something begin?" If you get a chance to read the same author's book(again, Martin Heidegger's 'An Introduction to Metaphysics'), you will see that this was definitely what he was talking about here K.R.

Can existence suddenly become non existence? I believe it is stated in science that physical matter can never be destroyed;

So when man makes an observation that a particular physical object or something no longer exists, we are in effect actually saying that the physical matter that this particular object was previously made of has at some point changed from it's previous physical form or previous physical state into something else now existing.

So no, a previous physical existence cannot suddenly become non existence(or something suddenly become nothing).
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby ronjanec on June 29th, 2012, 10:08 am 

If I can make another suggestion K.R?

You have way too many different questions and points in the same post: Positor was kind enough of to try to answer some of your questions, I tried to answer some of your questions, (and like the old song) we have only just begun!
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Keep_Relentless on June 29th, 2012, 10:24 am 

Well, I thought that, if both states (existence and non-existence) in totality could be both mutually exclusive and eternal, then "Why is there something rather than nothing?" could ask "Why not the eternal state of nothingness instead?" without having anything to do with causes, even though we tend to think a "state of nothingness" is absurd in its own right.

When you argue that something cannot become nothing, you seem to use an inductive basis, and as we all know I think, there are some holes in induction. I am still, again, inclined to think that any talk of nothingness is just illusion.

Well, I think having much together is efficient. Don't you? :) And even if we live for eternity, we will only ever just begin.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby sponge on June 29th, 2012, 11:26 am 

Keep_Relentless wrote:I don't mind an absence of space and matter provided something is somewhere. Energy is something else to consider, certain forces and phenomena, consciousness. My premise is that nothingness in totality is an illogical state, for there to not be an "everything". I have wondered about physical boundaries for a long time but think that it is boundless, but finite.



I have a couple of questions K_R.

Are you considering whether consciousness is outside of ‘everything’ or saying that consciousness is a non-material phenomenon that is dependent on matter for its reality?

Can you explain your thinking about physical boundaries being ‘boundless but finite’?

I’ve just seen your new thread and it looks like my first question here might be something of a bridge to your new line of thought?
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby ronjanec on June 29th, 2012, 11:56 am 

Keep_Relentless wrote:Well, I thought that, if both states (existence and non-existence) in totality could be both mutually exclusive and eternal, then "Why is there something rather than nothing?" could ask "Why not the eternal state of nothingness instead?" without having anything to do with causes, even though we tend to think a "state of nothingness" is absurd in its own right.

When you argue that something cannot become nothing, you seem to use an inductive basis, and as we all know I think, there are some holes in induction. I am still, again, inclined to think that any talk of nothingness is just illusion.

Well, I think having much together is efficient. Don't you? :) And even if we live for eternity, we will only ever just begin.


K.R,

Yes, you are correct, an actual "state of nothingness" cannot have existed in the past "in and of itself" in actual reality;

But man can still today make a very logical observation that there was absolutely nothing existing before anything existed in the past, as long as he doesn't take the was in the same sentence literally;

Or again believe that there was actually "this thing" nothing existing "in and of itself" literally existing in actual reality before any thing existed or began.

No, I can't agree that this 'scattergun' approach in the same post is wise or "efficient" K.R., but this is of course up to you good sir.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby ronjanec on June 29th, 2012, 12:07 pm 

Gregorygregg1 wrote:
ronjanec wrote:
Gregorygregg1 wrote:When I said "cannot have a basis in reality, I did not mean to imply that it does not have a basis in existance. My imagination can provide me with a mechanism for placing nothing within the relm of existance, but not in reality, because at the instant nothing exists it ceases to exist. Kind of like time.


Greg,

With all this talk about nothing again on the forum, maybe I, or someone else who is also familar with the subject, should start another thread strictly devoted to this same subject in the very near future?


That would be great. One of my favorite things is to sit around with a cold beer and think about nothing. Another is to write about it. Unfortunately I wlii be heading off to spend two weeks at a summer school for the arts. It's remote, and I don't know if there is Internet access. I might have to wait till I get back to hash nothing out with you. That sounds like a rock tune, "I can't do nothing now no how."


Greg, I will wait for you to get back to start the new thread. Have a great trip!
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Gregorygregg1 on June 29th, 2012, 7:11 pm 

Not long ago I reeled a comparison between time and nothing out of the stream of consciousness.  
I have briefly put it on the cooker and stirred it a bit, I think it might make, a good soup stock, but I'm bringing it to you relatively uncooked so I don't crisp it into the usual charred mess.  See what you can make of it.  The way the universe manifests to our awareness, and the way nothingness would if it did indeed manifest.  The universe manifests as our instantaneous experience of what is, the now.  That experience, and the memory of the continuum of persistence is our perception of the universe.  We have extended our memory of persistence through record keeping and the logical extrapolation of science.  The difference between being and nothing could be that nothing may have instantaneous existence without persistence.  In other words, we may approach nothing, but as soon as we get there it ceases to exist.  Just as we approach now, but as soon as we get there it ceases to exist.  We cannot remember nothing because it doesn't persist, so we assume it doesn't exist. Does now exist since it doesn't persist? This comparison is twisting my brain around a bit. Perhaps you know a better way to render it down.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby sponge on June 30th, 2012, 7:13 am 

Hi Greg,

Interesting bit of intuitive thinking. Wouldn’t it be the case, though, that if your theory turned out to be correct, it would prove that ‘nothing’ was, in fact, something? An intermittent something that exists below our level of awareness.

If this was true we would have to rename this new ‘thing’ in order to preserve our concept of ‘nothing’ in case we could ever prove that a state of total non-existence was possible.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on June 30th, 2012, 8:06 am 

Keep_Relentless

Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?


Because nothing is still something. There's no such thing as literally nothing.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Keep_Relentless on June 30th, 2012, 8:10 am 

Yes charon :) but nothing cannot be logically something either as we mean it, so I will settle for saying that any talk of nothingness is nonsense. That isn't to say that I don't think all language is nonsense though.

Hey Greg, my attempted appeals to logic might be an unwelcome contrast to your expressions. The first thing I want to say is that logically there is no way for nothing to be something, or to be at all. If this was allowed blatant contradictions are allowed, and allowing blatant contradictions is where I draw the line of hyperbolic doubt.
Memory itself must exist in the present it seems. I think that time and a fourth dimension are only tools manipulated by us, and cannot be anything but nonsense, just like "nothing" and "infinity", because two points in time can't overlap. Of course there must be flow of the present, unless there is a way to deny change which despite many interesting positions I am unconvinced of.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby ronjanec on June 30th, 2012, 9:25 am 

Guys,

Can we please hold off on the all the meaning of nothing discussions until Greg gets back, and instead maybe focus on Heidegger's question for now? Or again, could there still possibly be a why(or a reason) if the rest of what he said was true?
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on June 30th, 2012, 11:48 am 

Keep_Relentless

nothing cannot be logically something either as we mean it



It's entirely logical, and the fact that there's something rather than nothing proves it :)

The word means, literally, no thing. Things can be removed but not energy; it can't be destroyed. The same could be said of life.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on June 30th, 2012, 11:54 am 

Gregorygregg1

Just as we approach now, but as soon as we get there it ceases to exist


Your discovery of its non-existence takes place in the now.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Keep_Relentless on June 30th, 2012, 10:00 pm 

Yes charon. :) No thing can't be, but since the phrase intends to refer to nothingness it fails definitively.
This was some speculation I did a while ago:

But is not nothing something in the sense that it is the object of my thought and the word “nothing”? Of course it cannot be unless blatant contradictions are allowed, itself a contradiction, therefore the object of the word “nothing” is some aspect of existence, because there cannot be something that is not something.

ronjanec, can we not simply copy/paste this over or re-write in the new thread if we wish? Then we needn't attempt to restrict our thoughts, an evil suggestion I would assert.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby ronjanec on June 30th, 2012, 10:45 pm 

Keep_Relentless wrote:Yes charon. :) No thing can't be, but since the phrase intends to refer to nothingness it fails definitively.
This was some speculation I did a while ago:

But is not nothing something in the sense that it is the object of my thought and the word “nothing”? Of course it cannot be unless blatant contradictions are allowed, itself a contradiction, therefore the object of the word “nothing” is some aspect of existence, because there cannot be something that is not something.

ronjanec, can we not simply copy/paste this over or re-write in the new thread if we wish? Then we needn't attempt to restrict our thoughts, an evil suggestion I would assert.


K.R, that is definitely ok with me. But I am personally really busy with a number of other threads to join you guys in the discussion at the present time.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Don Juan on July 2nd, 2012, 2:01 am 

Keep_Relentless wrote:Because nothing is nothing. It is not anything. Nothing cannot be.
Do not be trapped in the great illusion of language. :)


Nothingness presupposes a lot of things, but above all else, a thinking of observer (thus the inherent thresholds in perception), the processes of comparison and the world out there. Nothingness is relatively young in the history of the universe. What is “before” the beginning is not ‘nothing’, but ‘it cannot be known (yet)’. That which cannot be known (yet) is not identical to nothingness.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on July 2nd, 2012, 9:59 am 

Keep_Relentless

No thing can't be


Yes, no thing can be because all forms are temporary. But what remains is not literally nothing. The point is we can't imagine what that is because we can only think in terms of things. It's like trying to imagine what our own non-existence is like, we can't do it.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Keep_Relentless on July 2nd, 2012, 10:09 am 

charon wrote:It's like trying to imagine what our own non-existence is like, we can't do it.

Can we still answer the question "Can we become non-existent?"?
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on July 2nd, 2012, 10:28 am 

Keep_Relentless

Can we still answer the question "Can we become non-existent?"?


It can be answered subjectively if by 'we' we mean the self. Physically we eventually disappear but the self is the creation of thought. If thought stops the self disappears. What remains then isn't nothing, it's a different state.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby jchook on July 20th, 2012, 10:33 pm 

Can we still answer the question "Can we become non-existent?"?

Consider for a moment the idea of experiencing nothing. It would not be felt or remembered. It would take no time to occur. The only characteristic of experiencing "nothing" is to simultaneously know what "something" is.

Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

I believe this to be the most shocking and fundamental question. The question, if you will. Though I prefer to phrase it, "How could there not be nothing?" Those that truly experience the depth of this question have sight of the extent of things.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby DragonFly on August 4th, 2012, 11:50 pm 

The reason for taking a good long look into Something From Nothing is that there is literally nothing to make anything of, and there is no doubt about that. So we don't just shrug it off, neglecting it even, as some might, for at the end of the day no one can suggest any other source. So, it is a truth, but one that some might not like, for it seems a paradox.

There is then, usually, a retreat to the only other possible option, that of Something Forever, but it cannot truly satisfy, for it is an incomplete notion. The only way to complete the notion that the basic something comes from not anything at all is to thus equate 'not anything' to nothing. so, the two options reduce to the same.

Another problem with the same exact base existent stuff having always been around is: How could its total amount have been determined, as well as its forms and properties? For one have something already made and defined that was never made and defined.

I'll put out a thread eventually on 'Everything Solved', a tall order, I know. I kind of gave a preview of it in my first post here, in the thread about that all is determined.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on February 6th, 2019, 10:50 am 

I love this one! I'm a bit late (from 2012) but I still want to do it.

'Why is there something rather than nothing' is one of those philosophical questions that nobody can agree on. Because, I have to guess, nobody has the faintest idea!

But is the question itself legitimate? If there's no real answer after all this time that might be worth asking. Because if the question's wrong we're wasting our time banging our head on a wall.

Why should it be either/or? Why can't somethingness and nothingness both exist?

They say the totality of energy equates, or resolves out to, nothing (zero). Things (forms) are made of energy. They come and go but the energy remains - as zero. So both can exist; there can be things as well as nothingness.

We can't really ask why nothingness exists because it's a meaningless question. However, one might ask why things exist. Why should anything arise from energy at all?

I'd say because there'd be no point to it otherwise. Energy may be consciousness. If consciousness is anything it must be energy. But what use is consciousness if it's not conscious?

The whole of point of consciousness is that it be conscious and for it to be conscious requires a vehicle. So there are vehicles in differing states of consciousness. And we're one of those vehicles.

So one particular vehicle is asking (because it can) why it exists, why anything exists, and so on. It's capable of fathoming its own source. I see that as consciousness fulfilling its purpose, as it were, which is to become conscious.

All this is the movement of energy which is consciousness which still equates to zero or nothing. The various mystics say that to perceive reality or truth there has to be nothing at all - no self and all that.

So a thing, and a thought is a thing, can't see reality. It has to not be for reality/truth to be.

It's thought, the self, that asks the question about something/nothing... It should be asked, of course, but it can't be answered by the same mind that asks it.

I think, in fact I'm quite sure, that this is where science and religion meet. If energy is consciousness then the question stops pertaining to mere outward things and goes inward. I think that has to be done if the question of something/nothing is to be resolved.

But it can't be resolved by the mind that has asked it. That's the catch. Only in complete nothingness, which is the total cessation of conscious being, is there the answer.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby DragonFly on February 6th, 2019, 2:47 pm 

The capability for positive and negative energy to make a zero sum balance would be a Something.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby Lomax on February 6th, 2019, 3:01 pm 

I don't think it was I who posted the challenge to which Keep-Relentless refers. Anyway, there's a short proof that it would be contradictory for there to be nothing:

| ¬Ex
| Ax¬(x=x)
| Ax(x=¬x)
¬¬Ex
Ex

That's more or less it.

And if there was nothing, you'd still be complaining.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on February 6th, 2019, 5:32 pm 

Oh, well, in that case it answers the question 'Why is there...' etc, etc. :-)
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby DragonFly on February 6th, 2019, 6:43 pm 

charon » February 6th, 2019, 4:32 pm wrote:Oh, well, in that case it answers the question 'Why is there...' etc, etc. :-)


So now that a Something has shown to be of necessity and always, we can hope to derive the nature of the Something.

I have reread posts by Neri from as far back as 1987, in which he notes that Totality is never in any particular state, since it's in continuous transition as ever changing (even as much, I might add, as a jillion times a second and more). So, 'Change' looks to be necessity, too.

The consequence of the Something being ever is that there is no design point for its nature to be specified as anything particular or even anything at all, for that matter, this lack of 'particular' perhaps somehow connected to Neri's noting of 'no particular'. So, how to characterize the ultra nebulous? Does Necessity have a default?

So, while something like trees, people, rocks, and stars can still usefully be called things, it is more that they are processes and events (some rather long events, like that of a proton).

Rovelli has it that covariant quantum fields are all that's left for us to ponder as original or near-so, with all else emergent.
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby charon on February 6th, 2019, 7:54 pm 

It's all a mystery, isn't it? :-)
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Re: Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?

Postby DragonFly on February 6th, 2019, 8:26 pm 

charon » February 6th, 2019, 6:54 pm wrote:It's all a mystery, isn't it? :-)


No, it's becoming less and less of a mystery:

The Something is mandatory; no choice; no option not to be. The Great Wheel of Something is as helpless as we are, stuck, as to having to be.

Since Totality has no outside, all that goes on within has to be relative to all else that goes on within, this reducing ideas about absoluteness and intrinsic properties.

The Something, as much as it transforms/changes, must remain the same in the sense in that it could be refolded into any of its states by the same means that it transformed from one state to another.

Just as the Something could not have begun with a beginning it cannot end with an ending. It is neither makable nor breakable; it has to be ungenerated and deathless. Hail to the one real thing: the Nature that has no nature, but is still curiously called 'nature'.

Looks like Necessity has more limits to be added to it, as above, thus the Mystery is becoming bounded as we learn more about what it can and cannot have.

It may also help to know that there cannot be any true mysteries or paradoxes. Nature is already a feat accomplished and thus it did it how it did it.
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